Archive for February, 2015

A blogger friend of mine – you may have heard of her, the amazing August McLaughlin – is hosting a blog fest titled “The Beauty of a Woman” this week. I accepted a Facebook invite to the event thinking, sure, I’ll read and comment on blogs, sounds like fun.

When the fest kicked off today, I began pondering the question: what makes a woman truly beautiful? I realize there is at least a hundred different answers to that, so I dug a little, asked myself the simplified version – what is beautiful to me? As cynical and sarcastic as I am, I do find beauty in every day things. I even see it in some of the most terrible places thanks to my skewed vision.

I touched on my depression in my last blog post. Let me take you a little deeper here.

I had absolutely no reason to be depressed growing up (of course, any of us with the tiniest bit of knowledge on the subject know there doesn’t have to be a reason). My parents were never abusive in any way, shape or form. I had a glorious family life. I still do. My parents, brother, all my cousins, they’ve been called my “Brady Bunch Family” because we all get along so well and would do anything for each other.

Yet, there I was, sixteen years old, and I had my suicide planned. I saw it in my head; everything from the method (slit wrists, in the bathtub so it was easier to clean) down to the fact that Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” (hey, I was a child of the 80s) would be playing on repeat when I was found.

My faith and family – though none of them knew about it – were the only things at the time that prevented it. A year later, I developed severe panic disorder and dying was my greatest fear. Funny how that works.

At any rate, all these years later, I look back on the grueling path I traveled to the freedom I have today and realize there were a lot of beautiful bumps in that road.

Yes, I have been stricken with so many illnesses and diagnoses I could practically list them and use the entire alphabet. Yes, I’ve had to make sacrifices and learn what is truly important in life to me. But all the while, I have looked upon each as a milestone to contentment. And I’ve met some awe-inspiring people along the way.

So, what is beauty to me?

The woman who finds courage to leave a broken relationship. The man who reaches out to a complete stranger and offers understanding and camaraderie. The child or young adult who finds inspiration in those decades older than she.

It’s being who you are, who you want to be, and not settling for anything because it’s too hard to achieve. It’s acknowledging your inner flaws, fixing them if you can, and making the best of them if you can’t.

Being you, including all the ugly parts, is beautiful.

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In my tween years and beyond, I was ridiculed and shamed, called names, pointed and laughed at by my peers. All because of my weight. This subsequently caused me to jump from diet to diet for almost twenty years. I wrote about it.

In my teenage years I was full of depression and anxiety. I was a worrywart. A goth chick. A loner. A crappy poet. Eventually, a cutter. Still, I wrote.

In my 20s I went straight from being a daughter and sister living at home to being a wife a daughter-in-law. Still consumed by underlying depression.
In my work life, I was always some kind of Secretary or administrative assistant, then a registrar at a local high school. Though during this time, I felt my creativity had left me, I still wrote. Granted some days, it was just lists (over and over thanks to a generous touch of OCD) or scant paragraphs of scenes or a scribbled description of a dream.

In 2007, my life changed. It seemed on top of other chronic health issues, my spine had begun its descent into deterioration. I sustained a back injury that required surgery the same year my family lost our matriarch member, our cornerstone – my grandmother.

Little did I know at the beginning of that summer my life would never be the same.
All the time that elapsed and events that unfolded between the time of my injury, the surgery and the subsequent second surgery (that’s a whole other story – maybe another time) I developed something called sacroiliac joint dysfunction. That was the final nail on the medical coffin which would entrap me as officially disabled.

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I can’t begin to tell you what anguish, frustration and depths of darkness engulfed me. I was too young. There was too much I still wanted to accomplish. I hadn’t found my best fitting label yet.
But I had so many I’d gained throughout the first three decades of life. From others and self-imposed. Good, bad, and terrible.

Fatty. Weirdo. Lard-ass. Freak. Daughter. Wife. Sister. Caregiver. Cousin. Niece. Bitch. Angry. Frustrated. Depressed. Worthless. Hopeless. Broken.

I didn’t write.

About three years ago something changed. I can’t define the exact moment I decided to take charge of my life again. Maybe for the first time. I was done taking care of everyone else; it was time to take care of me.

First off, it was time to quit dieting. I have learned one of my medical conditions was making it very hard for me to lose weight so I decided to stop focusing so much on it.

Second, my marriage. We had been living for years like roommates and friends but not much else. We both deserved better. We divorced and I faced my fear of being alone head-on. I actually discovered I quite like it.
I took up writing again, joined a critique group, met some new friends.

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Now, I’m a co-founding partner in an up-and-coming publishing company with a family of authors who all support and promote each other.

And you know what? I still have those labels. I just have better ones now.

I am a businesswoman. I’m a publisher, a friend, an advocate, a survivor.
And most of all, through it all, I am a writer.

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#WomensRightToWrite